In the dark of night, a butt-naked heroin addict swims toward shore. He catches his breath and goes ashore. We know there are other people out there, definitely bad people, but perhaps good as well, but none with search boats and helicopters. It’s a strange scene that Nick wanders into. He’s in a newly abandoned camp, full of tents and RVs and barrel fires. The salty wind whipping everything to and fro creates a properly ominous atmosphere. While TWD has that overgrown post-apocalyptic set design down, FTWD is really creative I think in creating that brand new apocalypse aesthetic. Using stealth and misdirection, Nick lures a walker into its second death, and drags the body into a tent so he will be undisturbed in eviscerating it and covering himself with blood. Nick never ceases to amuse with his cleverness. Properly gored, he sets to the next part of his quest as the title burns across the screen.
Travis and Maddie weigh the pros and cons of trusting Strand in light of his axe job last episode. This is the first time Travis has wanted to do anything to a person besides talk it out with them, but if only for the promise of a Mexican hideaway, Maddie advises against this. Meanwhile Chris and Ofelia have a chat about teenage romance and finding the bliss of hormonal youth at the end of the world. As if the phrase “making bad decisions” manifested itself, the two find a raft swiftly approaching with two men and a pregnant woman in labor aboard. Before anyone knows what’s going on the survivors are begging for help and as the crew of the Abigail wake up one by one, it’s clear that things are going to get messy one way or another. Strand stalks unseen, but learns what’s happening.
It’s pretty ridiculous that Alicia can sleep so soundly when all hell is breaking loose on the boat. Even with all the shouting she casually dresses herself and tries to figure out what’s going on when it dawns on her that one of the voices she hears is her Dream Phone boyfriend and murderous pirate, Jack. Rather than play dumb she calls him out and three scrawny yuppies get the drop on the entire boat and take them hostage. These people have no chance of survival. If they keep dropping their guard like this it’ll be hard to stretch that kind of stupidity into a whole season. Still, Chris seems rather miffed at his captors, especially the shit talker Reed, and it appears Strand has slipped away, after finding Daniel took the magazine from his gun. We are meant to think the pirates clipped him with a potshot during the getaway, but we’ll see how this shit-show shakes out.
An interesting flashback plays out between Strand and a new friend at a bar as they watch the aftermath of Katrina on the TV. They’re seemingly both in the real estate game and thusly new friends, until it’s clear Strand can hold his liquor better than his friend and though he’s chivalrous enough to help a drunk buddy, it’s not without its price. Strand is not only a great con man, but a thief as well. Still, his situation doesn’t seem so great as the raft is all but deflated and his phone is wet.
Aboard Abigail, Travis avoids getting Chris executed by Reed by promising to start the boat without the keys, which Strand presumably has. Jack and Alicia go looking for a radio, with which they will contact the mysterious Connor. She tries to get into Jack’s head, trying to fix the huge mess she’s made, but in very teen drama “boo hoo you lied I don’t like you” way. Nick, safely covered in walker guts, continues his expedition into an abandoned luxury home tract. He has an address written down but for what?
Flashing back to Strand’s great con, the man he robbed catches up with him some time later and presents himself as none other than Thomas Abigail. Not all ships are named after women, I suppose. He’s got a henchman with him but it seems that he’s more interested in Strand than he is in the money that was stolen. Back on the water, Strand is far less competent and loses the phone.
Aboard Abigail our heroes finally start coming up with a play, realizing far too late that they outnumber their captors. Maddie and Daniel poise themselves to move against the pregnant Vida, using tactics not unlike the ones used back when Maggie and Carol were taken in TWD. Travis meanwhile bluffs Reed and gets taken down to the engine room where he hides a crowbar in his sleeve. I’m not saying an English teacher couldn’t know a thing or two about electrical engineering, but so far Travis looks like Montgomery god damn Scott aboard the Enterprise.
Jack and Alicia contact Connor, who says he’s inbound. Alicia keeps prying about Jack’s role with the pirates, with all of the life or death urgency of a girl who’s just gotten her heart broken by the high school bad boy. But while I may be a bit too old for the misty blue eyes, Jack has unwittingly fallen into a deadfall, believing that she’ll be with him, and sets her free. Back ashore, Nick feels no need to be stealthy anymore, dribbling a basketball as he approaches his destination. Once he finds the house, he’s startled by the henchman from the Strand flashbacks, Carlos. I love how nonchalant Nick is about having a gun in his face, and he explains that Strand sent him. As it turns out Carlos and Strand have gotten a bit cozier since their first meeting and he explains a bit about the Abigail business ventures to Nick. Carlos loads up the car with presumably more guns and tells Nick to wash up, as he’s gotten walker blood on the ride. Probably not too smart to use the ol’ spit shine to clean off infected blood. But if everyone is already infected, a little coagulated blood won’t hurt right?
Things get tenser on Abigail as Maddie and Ofelia try to get into Vida’s head, suggesting her baby is already dead and perhaps “one of those things.” We’ve seen zombie children in this universe, but zombie babies would be a first. Technically not THE first, but an interesting gambit so early in the series. Nick being his likeable self, or Carlos being the friendly but probably very violent henchman, explains that there will be problems with the amount of people because they’re going to be joining a small fleet (“flotilla”) and that money will be exchanged, but that Carlos’ mother Celia is already there and awaiting their arrival.
Flashing back yet again, Strand and Abigail are poolside as we meet Celia. It seems Strand has made himself a bit more than useful to Abigail and they are a bit more than business partners. As they overlook a beautiful Mexican vista, Abigail talks of never wanting for anything after this project is complete. Strand wants to talk about an upcoming meeting with a “council” to seal the deal but Abigail will hear no talk of business. I surmise that this completed project is where our heroes are heading to, maybe without Strand?
Just as Travis is about to start the boat, Connor arrives with a few new players to add to the board, if Maddie and Daniel and the rest are still going to make their move. Connor presents himself as kind but not to be trifled with, and he takes Travis and Alicia aboard his vessel, leaving Reed with our new friends, Ben and Red, to guard the rest aboard Abigail. This upper hand is short lived because as soon as Connor leaves, Ben hears Nick and Carlos on the approach. Despite speeding bumpily aboard a raft, Carlos puts bullets right through Red’s brain case, then Ben’s. Before Reed has time to react, our heroes set upon him, disarming and impaling him. Chris takes particular joy in hurting Reed, for all those creepy step-sister comments. Rightly so, but Chris is poised to become an even bigger sociopath than Carl.
The situation now is this: Carlos won’t leave without Strand, the group won’t leave without Travis and Maddie, and Strand won’t last much longer in open water. And Daniel is a grumpy old prick who doesn’t like another man with a Latin accent aboard.
In our final flashback, we find that Strand is leaving to meet the council despite the travel warnings regarding the outbreak, and personal pleas from Abigail himself. Strand assures the deal won’t take more than two days, but we know exactly how that turned out. Thus ends the abridged history of Victor Strand. But what of his future? As he seems to stop treading water and float, Maddie comes to his rescue and we’re left to wonder how we’re going to get our other two wayward heroes back.
Despite a few logical stumbles I really enjoyed this episode once I’d seen it through. Strand’s backstory was told in short bites but in such a way that answered all the right questions and raised a few more interesting ones. His story certainly endeared him to those of us who found him more mysterious than threatening. The action was short but sweet, with Carlos proving to be the only one of value in a firefight. This is not to say that the rest of our heroes aren’t able to move and manipulate and change the playing field in their own ways. But as I said earlier, either they’re going to wise up and have some more situational and tactical awareness, or this show can’t last very long. Here’s hoping for the former outcome.
Written by A Play On Nerds contributor, Jerry Herrera - Lover of horror, sci fi, and fantasy in that order. Semi-permanent Disneyland resident. I'm at least one of the droids you're looking for. Twitter: @FrankenJerry - Instagram: @GeraldoPedro